Economy What to do when a tenant abandons the premises...

What to do when a tenant abandons the premises without warning?

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When a lessor suspects that his tenant has abandoned his home, he must resort to a specific procedure to repossess it. – IStock / City Presse

All tenants must in principle respect a period of notice before leaving their accommodation. The objective is to give the lessor time to turn around to avoid financial losses. But sometimes the occupant abandons his home suddenly and unpredictably, without notifying his owner. No question, then, of repossessing the premises anyhow.

The report of abandonment

A pile of letters piling up on the mailbox, empty calls or non-payment of rent are all signs suggesting a sneaking out. As soon as the lessor suspects an abandonment of the home, he must call a bailiff to send his tenants a formal notice forcing them to justify that they are actually occupying the accommodation. In the event of unpaid bills, this letter can be included in an order to pay. In all cases, the occupants have one month, after the service, to come forward.

Without a response from them within the time limit, the judicial officer will then be able to enter the premises by force to ascertain the state of abandonment of the home. To do this, he must be accompanied by an authorized municipal agent and a police or gendarmerie authority. Once there, the public officer draws up a report and, if the house does appear to be abandoned, he makes an inventory of any furniture left behind.

The inescapable judge

The owner must then seize the judicial court to ask him to pronounce the termination of the lease, to authorize him to take back possession of his property and to rule in the passage on the cases remained in the places. In its request, the lessor must provide all the necessary supporting documents, including the abandonment report.

If the court considers the request to be well founded, it will be able to note the termination of the lease, order the repossession of the premises, rule on the request for payment in the event of unpaid bills and authorize the sale of the goods at auction. On the other hand, if the judge rejects the request, his decision is final. It will then be necessary to go through a classic expulsion procedure.

Inform your tenant

Once the judge’s order in favor of the lessor has been issued, the latter has two months to serve it again by bailiff on the tenants. The public officer must indeed inform them of how they can challenge this decision – they have a month to do so – and recover their belongings. But how to find them if they left without leaving an address? The bailiff can question all the organizations necessary to find their trace. If he does not succeed, he must draw up a report relating his research and send it with a copy of the judge’s order to their last known address by registered mail with acknowledgment of receipt.

Once the court decision has become final, the bailiff will proceed with the repossession of the premises, so that the lessor finally takes possession of it.

A controlled cost

This specific accelerated procedure makes it possible to avoid the long steps involved in the case of a classic expulsion. And in order to limit the bill, the bailiff’s fees are regulated by law. In 2021, it takes 63.84 euros for the formal notice requiring the tenant to justify that he occupies the accommodation, 67.67 euros for the report of abandonment with inventory of furniture, and 9.20 euros for travelling expenses. Please note: if you do not have the keys to the accommodation, you will have to add a locksmith’s bill.

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